Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WPA Annual Conference 2011

I can't quite remember how many times I've attended annual conference. I've gone enough to know how the game is played, but not enough to be a fixture. It appears that I've also voted enough times to speak Robert's Rule of Procedure almost fluently - and like most of the languages I study, I don't much care for it.

I'm anti-meeting. I'm anti-committee. My mom wrote to me once, "A camel is a horse designed by a committee." John Wesley's movement incurred the mocking name "Methodist" because it appeared that they held their organizational beliefs just as strongly as their theological beliefs. We have lost that love for efficient and effective organization.

This is what is wrong with United Methodism. Our theology is still sound. While it would be nice if we could stop debating the divisive issues, and honestly I would love to see us reclaim our Wesleyan heritage (we are not strictly Evangelicals, nor are we mainline protestants!), and I would be forever grateful if United Methodists would stop getting their theology from the lady with big hair on the Holy Roller channel; our theology is not the problem.

Our organization is the problem. Our structures and method are from a different century. My home conference put up a plea for people to "like" them on Facebook in the same month that 6 million Americans deleted their Facebook account. At conference I was asked to sign up for six e-mail mailing lists. I kept wondering, "Do people still use e-mail?"

I'm a dinosaur of sorts: I love Sunday School, I would rather not own a TV, I can't text and drive like the rest of my generation, I've gladly served on almost every committee at the local church level. I still fit quite well into antiquated structures and methods.

But my friends don't. My pre-churched, un-churched, and post-churched friends don't fit into the organizational system. The United Methodist church needs to undergo radical change. The change will be invisible to those outside our system, but if we could reform our ways - the whole world would soon feel the full force of the United Methodist church.

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